Space Hubble Telescope News

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NASA's Webb Telescope to Investigate Mysterious Brown Dwarfs



Brown dwarfs are often described as failed stars. However, this label misrepresents the true nature of these unusual objects. They may live in the fuzzy boundary between planets and stars, but it’s that exact ambiguity that makes them so intriguing to scientists. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will study brown dwarfs to measure their properties and probe their origins.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA Space Telescopes Provide a 3D Journey Through the Orion Nebula



By combining the visible and infrared capabilities of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers and visualization specialists from NASA's Universe of Learning program have created a spectacular, three-dimensional, fly-through movie of the magnificent Orion nebula, a nearby stellar nursery. Using actual scientific data along with Hollywood techniques, a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California, has produced the best and most detailed multi-wavelength visualization yet of the Orion nebula. The three-minute movie allows viewers to glide through the picturesque star-forming region and experience the universe in an exciting new way.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to Reveal Secrets of the Red Planet



Mars rovers and orbiters have found signs that Mars once hosted liquid water on its surface. Much of that water escaped over time. How much water was lost, and how does the water that’s left move from ice to atmosphere to soil? During its first year of operations, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will seek answers. Webb also will study mysterious methane plumes that hint at possible geological or even biological activity.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Webb Telescope to Make a Splash in the Search for Interstellar Water



Most of the water in the universe floats in vast reservoirs called molecular clouds. It coats the surface of dust grains, turning them into cosmic snowflakes. When stars and planets form, those snowflakes get swept up, delivering key ingredients for life. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will map water and other cosmic ices to gain new insights into these building blocks for habitable planets.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Could Potentially Detect the First Stars and Black Holes



One of the key science goals of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is to learn about “first light,” the moment when the first stars and galaxies lit the universe. While the first galaxies will be within Webb’s reach, individual stars shine so faintly that Webb would not be able to detect them without help. That help could come in the form of natural magnification from gravitational lensing, according to a new theoretical paper.

A cluster of galaxies can provide the needed gravitational oomph to bring distant objects into focus via lensing. Typical gravitational lensing can boost a target’s brightness by a factor of 10 to 20. But in special circumstances, the light of a faraway star could be amplified by 10,000 times or more.

If Webb monitors several galaxy clusters a couple of times a year over its lifetime, chances are good that it will detect such a magnified star, or possibly the accretion disk of a black hole from the same era. This would give astronomers a key opportunity to learn about the actual properties of the early universe and compare them to computer models.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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NASA's Webb Space Telescope to Inspect Atmospheres of Gas Giant Exoplanets



Thousands of exoplanets are known to orbit distant stars. Far fewer have had their atmospheres studied. The Webb telescope will bring new capabilities for determining atmospheric compositions, temperatures, and structures. Some of Webb’s earliest observations will focus on gas giants, whose puffy atmospheres should be easier to inspect. Lessons learned there will apply to later observations of small, rocky worlds.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble and Gaia Team Up to Fuel Cosmic Conundrum



Using the powerful Hubble and Gaia space telescopes, astronomers just took a big step toward finding the answer to the Hubble constant, one of the most important and long-sought numbers in all of cosmology. This number measures the rate at which the universe is expanding since the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The constant is named for astronomer Edwin Hubble, who nearly a century ago discovered that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions. Now, researchers have calculated this number with unprecedented accuracy.

Intriguingly, the new results further intensify the discrepancy between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed. Because the universe is expanding uniformly, these measurements should be the same. The so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Our Solar System's First Known Interstellar Object Gets Unexpected Speed Boost



NASA's Press Release (18-056)

Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, an international team of scientists have confirmed `Oumuamua (oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah), the first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system, got an unexpected boost in speed and shift in trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year.

“Our high-precision measurements of ′Oumuamua’s position revealed that there was something affecting its motion other than the gravitational forces of the Sun and planets," said Marco Micheli of ESA’s (European Space Agency) Space Situational Awareness Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre in Frascati, Italy, and lead author of a paper describing the team's findings.

Analyzing the trajectory of the interstellar visitor, co-author Davide Farnocchia of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) found that the speed boost was consistent with the behavior of a comet.

“This additional subtle force on `Oumuamua likely is caused by jets of gaseous material expelled from its surface,” said Farnocchia. “This same kind of outgassing affects the motion of many comets in our solar system.”

Comets normally eject large amounts of dust and gas when warmed by the Sun. But according to team scientist Olivier Hainaut of the European Southern Observatory, “there were no visible signs of outgassing from `Oumuamua, so these forces were not expected.”

The team estimates that `Oumuamua’s outgassing may have produced a very small amount of dust particles — enough to give the object a little kick in speed, but not enough to be detected.

Karen Meech, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy and co-author of the study, speculated that small dust grains, present on the surface of most comets, eroded away during `Oumuamua's long journey through interstellar space.

"The more we study `Oumuamua, the more exciting it gets," Meech said. "I'm amazed at how much we have learned from a short, intense observing campaign. I can hardly wait for the next interstellar object!"

`Oumuamua, less than half a mile in length, now is farther away from our Sun than Jupiter and traveling away from the Sun at about 70,000 mph as it heads toward the outskirts of the solar system. In only another four years, it will pass Neptune’s orbit on its way back into interstellar space.

Because `Oumuamua is the first interstellar object ever observed in our solar system, researchers caution that it’s difficult to draw general conclusions about this newly-discovered class of celestial bodies. However, observations point to the possibility that other star systems regularly eject small comet-like objects and there should be more of them drifting among the stars. Future ground- and space-based surveys could detect more of these interstellar vagabonds, providing a larger sample for scientists to analyze.

NASA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) about the `Oumuamua observations from 4 to 6 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 28. To participate, go to:

r/IAmA

The international team of astronomers used observations from Hubble, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii, and the Gemini South Telescope and European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

The paper with the team’s findings will appear in the June 27 issue of the journal Nature.

JPL hosts CNEOS for the agency’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program, an element of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office within the agency's Science Mission Directorate. Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages Hubble. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations.

Learn more about asteroids and near-Earth objects at:

Asteroid Watch

For more information from Hubble, go to:

Hubble Space Telescope

Felicia Chou / JoAnna Wendel
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
202-358-0257 / 202-358-1003
felicia.chou@nasa.gov / joanna.r.wendel@nasa.gov

Calla Cofield
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
818-393-1821
calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore
410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514
dweaver@stsci.edu / villard@stsci.edu

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble and Gaia Team Up to Fuel Cosmic Conundrum



Using the powerful Hubble and Gaia space telescopes, astronomers just took a big step toward finding the answer to the Hubble constant, one of the most important and long-sought numbers in all of cosmology. This number measures the rate at which the universe is expanding since the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The constant is named for astronomer Edwin Hubble, who nearly a century ago discovered that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions. Now, researchers have calculated this number with unprecedented accuracy.

Intriguingly, the new results further intensify the discrepancy between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed. Because the universe is expanding uniformly, these measurements should be the same. The so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Space Telescope Photographs Extragalactical Stellar Nursery

NASA is releasing today a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photograph of the most remarkable star forming region in the Local Group of Galaxies, 30 Doradus. The photograph shows about 60 stars within a central tight cluster in 30 Doradus. In contrast, earlier photographs with ground-based telescopes, supplemented by mathematical analysis, have shown only 27 stars in the tight cluster, which is called R136. Before the ground-based studies showed that so many stars are present in R136, some astronomers thought it was a single, supermassive object, with as much as 3,000 times the mass of the Sun. This recent HST photograph shows even more individual stars within R136. Furthermore, its high resolution suggests that some of the stars have more than 100 times the mass of the Sun. That would make them among the most massive stars ever identified.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Rules Out a Leading Explanation for Dark Matter

Until now, the dim, small stars were considered ideal candidates for dark matter. Whatever dark matter is, its gravitational pull ultimately will determine whether the universe will expand forever or will someday collapse. Picking a region in our Milky Way Galaxy, astronomers predicted that Hubble should have spied 38 red dwarf stars if this class of objects harbored most of the dark matter. The diamond-shaped symbols in the left-hand image illustrate what scientists expected to see. Instead, they saw no stars.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Space Telescope Photographs Extragalactical Stellar Nursery

NASA is releasing today a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photograph of the most remarkable star forming region in the Local Group of Galaxies, 30 Doradus. The photograph shows about 60 stars within a central tight cluster in 30 Doradus. In contrast, earlier photographs with ground-based telescopes, supplemented by mathematical analysis, have shown only 27 stars in the tight cluster, which is called R136. Before the ground-based studies showed that so many stars are present in R136, some astronomers thought it was a single, supermassive object, with as much as 3,000 times the mass of the Sun. This recent HST photograph shows even more individual stars within R136. Furthermore, its high resolution suggests that some of the stars have more than 100 times the mass of the Sun. That would make them among the most massive stars ever identified.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

Robby

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Hubble Rules Out a Leading Explanation for Dark Matter

Until now, the dim, small stars were considered ideal candidates for dark matter. Whatever dark matter is, its gravitational pull ultimately will determine whether the universe will expand forever or will someday collapse. Picking a region in our Milky Way Galaxy, astronomers predicted that Hubble should have spied 38 red dwarf stars if this class of objects harbored most of the dark matter. The diamond-shaped symbols in the left-hand image illustrate what scientists expected to see. Instead, they saw no stars.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Space Telescope Measures Precise Distance to the Most Remote Galaxy Yet

Astronomers using the Hubble telescope have announced the most accurate distance measurement yet to the remote galaxy M100, located in the Virgo cluster of galaxies.

This measurement will help provide a precise calculation of the expansion rate of the universe, called the Hubble Constant, which is crucial to determining the age and size of the universe. They calculated the distance - 56 million light-years - by measuring the brightness of several Cepheid variable stars in the galaxy. Cepheid variables are a class of pulsating star used as "milepost markers" to calculate the distance to nearby galaxies. The bottom image shows a region of M100. This Hubble telescope image is a close-up of a region of the galaxy M100. The top three frames, taken over several weeks, reveal the rhythmic changes in brightness of a Cepheid variable.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Observes the Moons and Rings of the Planet Uranus

This Hubble telescope snapshot of the planet Uranus reveals the planet's rings, at least five of the inner moons, and bright clouds in the Southern Hemisphere. Hubble allows astronomers to revisit the planet at a level of detail not possible since the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by the planet briefly, nearly a decade ago.

This picture is a combination of images showing the motion of the inner moons. Each inner moon appears as a string of three dots. Thanks to Hubble's capabilities, astronomers will be able to precisely determine the moons' orbits.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Identifies Primeval Galaxies, Uncovers New Clues to the Universe's Evolution

Astronomers using the Hubble telescope as a "time machine" have obtained the clearest views yet of distant galaxies that existed when the universe was a fraction of its current age.

A series of remarkable pictures, spanning the life history of the cosmos, are providing the first clues to the life history of galaxies. The Hubble results suggest that elliptical galaxies developed remarkably quickly into their present shapes. However, spiral galaxies that existed in large clusters evolved over a much longer period - the majority being built and then torn apart by dynamic processes in a restless universe. These pictures of faraway galaxies, located 5 to 10 billion light-years from Earth, illustrate the findings.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Monitors Weather on Neighboring Planets

What's the weather for Mars and Venus? The Hubble telescope has given astronomers a peek. The telescope is serving as an interplanetary weather satellite for studying the climate on Earth's neighboring worlds, Mars and Venus.

To the surprise of researchers, Hubble is showing that the Martian climate has changed considerably since the unmanned Viking spacecraft visited the Red Planet in the mid-1970s. The Hubble pictures indicate that the planet is cooler, clearer, and drier than a couple of decades ago. In striking contrast, Hubble's observations of Venus show that the atmosphere continues to recover from an intense bout of sulfuric "acid rain," triggered by the suspected eruption of a volcano in the late 1970s.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Asteroid or Mini-Planet? Hubble Maps the Ancient Surface of Vesta

Hubble telescope images of the asteroid Vesta are providing astronomers with a glimpse of the oldest terrain ever seen in the solar system and a peek into a broken-off section of the "mini-planet," which exposes its interior.

Hubble's pictures provide the best view yet of Vesta's complex surface, which has geologic features similar to those of terrestrial worlds such as Earth or Mars. The asteroid's ancient surface, battered by collisions eons ago, allows astronomers to peer below the asteroid's crust and into its past. These images trace the asteroid through a full rotation.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Views Saturn Ring-Plane Crossing

This sequence of images from the Hubble telescope documents a rare astronomical alignment: Saturn's magnificent ring system turned edge-on. This event occurs when the Earth passes through Saturn's ring plane, as it does about every 15 years.

In these pictures, Hubble can see details on Saturn as small as 450 miles (725 kilometers) across. In each image the dark band across Saturn is the ring shadow cast by the Sun, which is still slightly above the planet's ring plane. The bright dots to the left of Saturn and in the boxes to the right are some of the planet's moons. The boxes around the western portion of the rings [on the right] indicate the area in which the faint light from the rings has been enhanced through image processing to make the rings more visible.

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 

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Hubble Observes the Fire and Fury of a Stellar Birth

The Hubble telescope has provided a detailed look at the fitful, eruptive, and dynamic processes accompanying the final stages of a star's "construction."

These three images provide a dramatically clear look at collapsing circumstellar disks of dust and gas that build stars and provide the ingredients for a planetary system. The pictures also show blowtorch-like jets of hot gas funneled from deep within several embryonic systems and machine gun-like bursts of material fired from the stars at speeds of a half-million mph. The Hubble observations shed new light on one of modern astronomy's central questions: How do tenuous clouds of interstellar gas and dust make stars like our Sun?

(More at HubbleSite.com)
 
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